Watching kestrels when I was a boy led to a fascination in birds of prey and when I produced a small book of raptors at the age of nine I began an intense relationship with wild birds, watching them and drawing them at every opportunity. I joined Watch (the youth section of the Wildlife Trust), and entered an art competition which lead to two years’ work with a local wildlife artist, James Alder, and an exhibition at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle. This experience had a lasting impact on my work.
At the age of 13, already a constant visitor to my local patch in north-east England, I found my first ever rare bird, fuelling an interest in rarities which took me the length and breadth of the British Isles. I soon began to dream of birding further afield, and travelled to many parts of Europe, North Africa, India, Nepal, China, North America and South America. It was an expedition to the latter in 1995 which lead to a commission for plates on a forthcoming field guide to the Birds of Argentina, work which continues to this day. At the same time, I have been painting information panels for British nature reserves, and working on other book projects, including “Birds New to Britain”, and a new field guide to the birds of Bolivia. My work has also appeared in various birding journals, including British Birds, Birding Asia and Cotinga, and it was featured in the 2003 and 2005 Birdwatch Artist of the Year calendars.
I graduated in 1997 from the Kent Institute of Art and Design, with a degree in Visual Communication, and I now live and work in North Norfolk, gaining much inspiration from the amazing coastline and its wildlife.
– Richard Johnson